About Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen A. Ryan is a retired 21-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island, NY. She is a Macavity and Derringer Award finalist. She can be found on Twitter & Instagram as @katcop13. She volunteers with the Crime Stoppers Board in Suffolk County and the Adoption Center for Cats at Petsmart. She is a noir fan.

When Will I Die, and Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?: Redux

Ah, yes, another oldie but goodie from the past (Sept. 2009), for your reading enjoyment; be aware these responses are from 2009, and some contain graphic wording: 

jpg_0627QUESTIONIt all started when when I wanted to use my silicone Bundt cake pan for the first time. Just before placing it in the oven, I wondered: Should I use a baking sheet to support the wobbly pan, or is this pan designed to use alone? I decided to do what anyone with a computer does: I Googled it. I intended to Google: “Should I use a baking sheet under a silicone pan?” but as soon as I typed, ”Should I,” a drop-down of popular suggestions appeared. I couldn’t ignore the juxtaposition of these responses. Some of the highlights (beware a graphic one) as they appear on Google:

“Should I…”
should i refinance my mortgage
should i stay or should i go (55.9 million results)
should i call him (85.4 million results)
should i shave my pubic hair
should i file bankruptcy
should i get a divorce

Magic 8 ballI didn’t know that Google had become a substitute for the Magic 8 ball (The Mattel Magic 8 ball, a toy used for seeking advice, was invented in 1946 by the son of a clairvoyant. You can even try an online version here).

(Concentrate and ask (Google) again….)

Typing “Should we…” in Google reveals a drop-down of the following:

“Should we….”
should we break up
should we get married (25 million results)
should weed be legal (over 45 million results)
should we have dropped the atomic bomb
should we file jointly
should we eliminate fats from our diet altogether and increase our proteins
should we move in together
should we get back together (99.9 million results)

Should I check “Does…”? (It is decidedly so.)
Does he like me (114 million results)
Does Obama smoke (over 30 million results)
Does hydroxycut/extenze/smooth away/alli work (responses condensed)
Does he love me
Does UPS delivery on Saturday
How about trying “Why”? (Without a doubt.)

“Why…”

why is the sky blue (25.2 million results)
why did the chicken cross the road
why men cheat
why did chris brown beat up rihanna
why do dogs eat poop
why did I get married (26 million results)

What kind of answers are Googlers expecting? (Reply hazy; try again.) What kind of answers are they finding? (Cannot predict now.)

I was on a roll. A peek at the results of “when,” “when will,” “how can,” and “how does”:

“When…”
whejpg_Earth-from-spacen is the superbowl
when will i die (893 million results)
when i grow up
when will the world end (176 million results)

“When will….”
when will i get my tax refund
when will the recession end

 

when will the economy get better
when will i get married (30.7 million results)

“How can…”
how can you tell if a guy likes you
how can i make my hair grow faster
how can you tell if a girl likes you
how can i get pregnant
how can you tell if a girl is a virgin
how can you tell if someone is lying (over 9.2 million results)

This is like eating potato chips…

“How does…”
how does a bill become a law (173 million results)
how does birth control work
how does david blaine levitate
how does google make money
how does unemployment work
Questions surrounding finances, birth control, the end of life, relationships, and hair growth seem to be of utmost concern for so many inquiring minds. I thought the popular question about how a bill becomes law was promising.

Is anyone finding meaningful answers to such major life decisions online? (Cannot predict now.) Will Googlers stop asking such questions? (Very doubtful….)

Just one more? (Yes, definitely.)
“Can I…”
can I has cheeseburger
can I have your number
can I get pregnant on my period
can I afford a house

Oh ~ and the answer to my question about silicone bakeware? A baking sheet is recommended to stabilize. The chocolate cake came out just great!

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Handwritten Letters: Redux

I wanted to re-post my first post when I joined Women of Mystery in 2009. It remains one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it!DSCN1543-1

It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be joining my fellow “Sisters in Crime” on the Women of Mystery blog. My heartfelt gratitude to the talented writers for inviting me along; I’m thrilled to be here.

Nearing the first anniversary of the death of their only son, I wrote a letter to a former coworker and his wife. A handwritten letter, not a typed one. I lost my 37 year old brother in 2001, and I know how it feels when anniversaries approach, especially that first one. The man who lost his talented clarinetist son in a tragic car ajpg_pancilhand-2ccident called me to say how touched they were. “No one writes handwritten letters anymore,” he said.

Afterward, I thought about some of the handwritten letters of my past.

In Mrs. Luciano’s fourth grade class at St. Patrick’s School in Huntington in 1970, we wrote letters to soldiers in Vietnam. Two soldiers responded, and I will never part with those letters.

jpg_correspondenceDuring my teen years, I had as many as fifty pen pals. I remember the most letters I ever received in one day — fourteen. Most of my pen pals were fellow Osmond Brothers fans. Kindred spirits find a way to be together, I guess. Besides, what kid doesn’t like to receive mail?

In the late 1970s, I chose “Ethnic Studies” as one of my electives at Huntington High School, specifically for the long-term project: a family tree. Upon learning that my mom knew little of her Irish roots, she suggested that I write to her Aunt Mary.jpg_tree-of-life-and-love

Aunt Mary’s five-page response sparked a flame that’s been burning for over two decades. Genealogy became a passion for me, as well as my mom and my Uncle Jimmy. Our obsession has taken us to Ireland, Pennsylvania, and New York City; to libraries, cemeteries, and genealogy research centers — and to think it all started with a letter. It’s amazing how much we still glean from Aunt Mary’s letter.

In 1979, I wrote a letter to Andy Gibb asking him to take me to my prom. I never heard back; I guess he just didn’t want to be my everything.

My mom wrote to her Aunt Gert in 1980 in search of family photos. Aunt Gert wrote back to say that she had packed the photos away, “in a rare fit of domestic activity,” and wasn’t sure where they were.

Gert remarked, “I know one of these days they’ll come to light (like the Dead Sea Scrolls, Tut-Ank-Amen’s Tomb, Veronica’s Veil and Howard Hughes’ will), but at the moment I think it would take the combined efforts of the FBI, Scotland Yard and Interpol to give me the faintest clue. I know the day will come when suddenly my hand will touch a crumbling cardboard box and upon opening it and seeing the contents, I’ll stagger back and shriek, ‘Eureka!’, rush to the phone and dial your number and say, ‘It’s all yours, baby, come and get it.’ Until then, darling, bear with me, I beseech you.”

She could have written, “I’m not sure where they are, but when I find them, I’ll let you know,” but I’m so glad she didn’t. Aunt Gert’s letter is a gem.

Do you still write handwritten letters? Are there certain letters from your past that you won’t part with? Is it a lost art?
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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Sunday Sentence

I’m participating in David Abrams’ project, Sunday Sentence, from his blog, The Quivering Pen, in which, “Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.”

jpg_bridge300“After three days in the wilderness, he had rotated the tires, mended three water mattresses, built a bridge, filled eight snow-control barrels with cinders, and devised a sophisticated system to de-sand everyone before they entered the tent.”jpg_tent0001

Do you recognize the writing of Erma Bombeck? It’s from If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?.

Speaking of the beloved writer, Erma Bombeck, I am thrilled to be attending the sold-out Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio, on the campus of Erma’s alma mater, the University of Dayton, from March 31-April 2, 2016. I’ll be joining writers from 35 states, a couple of Canadian provinces, and Madrid, Spain. You can follow the Bombeck Workshop on Twitter @ebww.

How about you? Read any fun or intriguing sentences this week? Do share!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

Sunday Sentence

I’m participating in David Abrams’ project, Sunday Sentence, from his blog, The Quivering Pen, in which, “Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.”

“Poets, like detectives, know the truth is laborious: it doesn’t occur by accident, rather it is chiseled and worked into being, the product of time and distance and graft.” 

Source: Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann; Random House NY 2015.

BTW, Colum McCann will be reading from, discussing, and signing this book in Huntington, NY, at the Book Revue, on Saturday, December 12, 7 pm, at 313 New York Avenue (Colum’s tour originally lists December 11, but it has been changed to December 12th, as per Book Revue).

Thirteen Ways of Looking

Anyone else wish to join in with their favorite sentence of the week?

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Advice to Writers

Are you familiar with the site AdvicetoWriters.com? If not, I highly recommend it. The Daily Quote of the Day is always a gem. The information on the site, “Writerly Wisdom of the Ages,” is collected by Jon Winokur. Advice to Writers also features interviews with writers.

jpg_writing400You can subscribe to email to receive a Quote of the Day, and follow Advice to Writers on Twitter @AdviceToWriters.

Another of my ‘go-to’ sites for writerly advice and inspiration is the interviews from The Paris Review. The archived interviews with authors date back to the 1950s. From Truman Capote to Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway to Henry Miller, and James M. Cain to W.H. Auden, The Paris Review interviews provide hours of fascinating reading.

Do you have a favorite site for writing advice and/or writer interviews?

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Literary Gifts for the Holidays

If you stepped into any retail stores on November 1, you probably noticed the holiday jpg_pumpkin_vector_image_031citems already available for sale, and holiday decorations adorning said stores as well. We barely blew the candles out in our jack-o-lanterns, or sorted through the Halloween candy, while the stores were busy changing over from Halloween to Christmas and other December holidays. They’re not even waiting ’til after Thanksgiving!

Shopping Choices catalogs 1Also, my letter carrier has been delivering catalogs every day. Most offer free shipping if you place an order of a certain amount by a certain date.

Every year I promise myself I will start preparing for the holidays early, and then be able to enjoy the year-end parties and gatherings instead of shopping and wrapping.

Here’s my chance!

I’ve been perusing some literary gift sites and thought I’d share them with my fellow Women of Mystery and our dear readers.

The Literary Gift CMugompany offers literary gifts, and then specifically, gifts for writers.

Etsy, of course, has unique literary gifts.

Notonthehighstreet.com has 142 items listed on their site when searching “literary gifts.”

Redbubble.com has over 1,700 items listed as Literary Gifts and Merchandise.

Ebookfriendly.com posts, “50 best literary gifts for a modern-day book lover.”

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? Cafepress.com has pages of literary gifts!jpg_FHH0208

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? Happy shopping!

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

 

Edgar Allan Poe Festival – 2015

Courtesy: Riverhead BID

This weekend marks the second annual Edgar Allan Poe Festival in Riverhead, New York. A parade on Main Street kicks off the festivities tonight at 7 p.m.

The Festival is sponsored by The Town of Riverhead and The Riverhead BID. The festival has been created by St. George Living History Productions.

On Halloween, Trick or Treat on Main Street begins at 11 am and continues until 3 pm. There will be musicals, story times, tours, family games, and readings. Members of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America will be available at the Dark Horse Restaurant starting at 11 am for book sales and signings.

On Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, members of the Long Island Sisters in Crime will be available for book sales and signing, also at the Dark Horse Restaurant.

jpg_3204-Happy-Halloween-Ghost-Flying-In-Night-And-Text-Boo

At the Vail Leavitt Music Hall at 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play depicting a fictitious meeting between three classic writers of the macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, in “The Ghost Writers.”

Poe-inspired menus will be available all weekend at the Blue Duck Bakery, the Dark Horse Restaurant, Uncle Joe’s Restaurant, Sonoma Grill, Joe’s Garage, and more.

Readings will be done all weekend long. I’m proud to be reading some of Poe’s poetry; “Spirits of the Dead,” at 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Grill, and “Alone” at Joe’s Garage at 2 pm, both on Sunday, November 1st.

According to northforker.com, here’s a list of “5 ‘don’t miss’ events” at the festival.

For a complete listing of events, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Banned Books Week

BBW-logoBanned Books Week runs September 27-October 3, 2015 this year.

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.

Follow @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter, or “like” the Facebook page. The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association is also on Twitter @OIF.

Over at www.fiercereads.com, enter the sweepstakes to win a selection of banned YA books.

Consider participating in the Virtual Read-Out, or check out these additional free events during the week.                                                  The Call of the Wild

Click here for a list of Banned Books That Shaped America, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1884), The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (1903), and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951).

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

National Punctuation Day & Contest

punctuation-day-logo

Each year, September 24 is National Punctuation Day. It was founded in 2004 by Jeff Rubin. It simply promotes the correct usage of punctuation.

 

Reader’s Digest offers Weird Facts About 5 Punctuation Marks You See Everywhere.

mental-floss-logoMental Floss tells us about Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using

National Punctuation Day is having a writing contest. Instead of the usual 250-word essay contest, they are going with a David Letterman-type Top 10 Contest: WHAT ARE THE TOP-10 WAYS PUNCTUATION HAS AFFECTED YOUR LIFE? 

Entries will be accepted through October 31 at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com. The page doesn’t indicate what the prize would be, if any.

National Punctuation Day has a Facebook Page. On their website, they list style books and guides, and online resources to help with punctuation and grammar.

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Extinguishing a Kitchen Oil Fire

An extremely effective video about a kitchen fire that could help save a life. This is actually an easy method as long as one doesn’t panic. Share this information!

Mrs O'Leary's CowNext month is Fire Prevention Month, which was started to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. It began on October 8, but did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. Check here for more information and tips regarding fire safety.

Every year, Fire Prevention Safety has a theme. For 2015, it is: Hear The Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.